PORTLAND — City Manager Jon Jennings has instituted a mandatory curfew through Saturday to help reduce social gatherings in the city in light of the recent coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses where the public congregate will have to close by 8 p.m. now through Saturday, March 21. In an emergency declaration issued Monday, Jennings said this applies to “restaurants, bars, movie theaters, museums, dance clubs, music venues and any other establishment where individuals gather in groups or are in close contact with one another.”

The curfew does not apply to grocery stores.

“This is a time of shared sacrifice for all of us, and we must be willing to alter our daily lives for now,” Jennings said. “We need everyone to take COVID-19 very seriously in order to limit community spread in the greater Portland area and across the state. I understand the very difficult situation this puts our business owners in, but in a global pandemic, it cannot be business as usual. We simply cannot have large gatherings, such as in the Old Port. We need your help in confronting the coronavirus. We will continue to reassess as we go forward.”

Additionally, the city is encouraging gyms and fitness centers to close and restaurants to offer only takeout or delivery options for the foreseeable future.

The curfew comes after a March 14 announcement from Superintendent Xavier Botana that all school buildings, as well as Portland Adult Education and before and after school programs will remain closed until March 30.

School officials Monday were working on plans to organize online education and to continue offering student meals during the shutdown.

City Hall has also been closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and meetings, programming and sports events have been canceled. Gov. Janet Mills declared a civil state of emergency for Maine on Sunday.

Mayor Kate Snyder said an aggressive approach in the city is needed to slow the spread of the virus.

“The earlier we impose aggressively cautious measures, the less time we need to keep them in place, the easier it is to identify cases and the less likely people get infected,” she said at a March 13 press conference.

As of Monday, Maine had 17 confirmed or likely coronavirus cases  of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus. Most of the impacted individuals live in Cumberland County.

Portland schools partner Full Plates Full’s FEED KIDS Maine is planning to distribute meals to students on Tuesday at meal sites throughout the city. Details were being worked out Monday.

The school board has postponed its public budget meetings until further notice.

City Hall will be closed at least for the next two weeks and all public meetings have been cancelled for the next month. The city also has suspended employee travel.

Visitors have been banned from the Barron Center and all employees at the city-operated nursing facility will be screened for the virus before each shift.

The city also is putting new protocols in place at the city’s homeless shelters in case someone staying there tests positive.

Portland Public Library will remain closed until March 30 and all programs, including visits from the bookmobile, are suspended until further notice.

The YMCA of Southern Maine has closed all of its branches through the end of the month.

The Maine Principals’ Association has pushed back high school teams’ preseason practices by a month. They are scheduled to resume April 27.

On the professional sports scene, the threat of coronavirus transmission has canceled the remaining Maine Mariner games, delayed the start of the Portland Sea Dogs season and cut the 2019-2020 Maine Red Claws campaign short.

Mariner fans will either receive a credit for future games or be given a refund. Anyone with Portland Sea Dog tickets for the games impacted can get a refund or two tickets to a future Sea Dogs game.

The Red Claws had eight games left, plus possibly playoff games, when the NBA decided to cancel the remainder of the season.

Local concerts put on by Waterfront Concerts have also been postponed and will be rescheduled. Individuals with tickets to the March 25 Celtic Woman show at Merrill Auditorium or the March 27 Beach Boys show at Merrill Auditorium should hold on to the tickets for the time being. Those tickets will be honored for the rescheduled performance or refunded.

Similarly, events at Cross Insurance Arena, including the Harlem Globetrotters appearance on March 19, Sesame Street Live March 21-22 and Gabriel Iglesias’ comedy show on March 28 have been postponed.

The city is posting information related to COVID-19 resources on a dedicated page at portlandmaine.gov/COVID19.
This story will be updated. 

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